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Newhouse School, Hendricks Chapel to host conversations with Daisy Khan on Cordoba House at Park51, interfaith dialogue

October 01, 2010

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Hendricks Chapel will host conversations with Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), on Wednesday, Oct. 6.

Khan will participate in a public interview, “Why We Should Build Cordoba House at Park51,” at 3:45 p.m. in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium in Newhouse 3. The event is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Carnegie Religion and Media Program and the Religion and Society Program.

Earlier in the day, Khan will participate in a conversation exploring how to engage in interfaith dialogue in a time of increasing religious tension. The conversation will be held over lunch, provided by Hendricks Chapel, in the Noble Room. Lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., and the conversation will be held from noon to 1 p.m. The event is open to a limited number of SU students, faculty and staff (with priority given to students). Reservations must be made in advance by e-mailing Ginny Yerdon at by Monday, Oct. 4.

In the afternoon interview, Khan will discuss Islam in America and why she believes Cordoba House at Park51 should be built. Tabloid newspapers and broadcasts refer to the downtown Manhattan site as “the mosque near Ground Zero,” although plans call for it to include major space devoted to cultural, educational and interfaith programs. Still, the project has been the subject of national controversy. Khan, who is married to the Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leading figure supporting Cordoba House at Park51, is an advocate through her organization of building bridges of understanding and dialogue among Muslims, Christians, Jews and others.

“I fully expect that the opportunity to hear such a prominent and respected American Muslim as Daisy Khan will be invaluable to educating students, faculty and interested citizens in the particular pressures and expectations that community faces at this time,” says Gustav Niebuhr, associate professor of newspaper and online journalism in the Newhouse School, director of the Religion and Society Program and director of the Carnegie Religion and Media Program.

Questions that Khan will explore during the lunchtime conversation include: How do we talk with one another across theological and ideological divides?; How do we break down barriers and stereotypes based on religion?; How do we facilitate dialogue and educate our communities?

“This is a historic opportunity for Syracuse University students to engage a renowned and respected interfaith leader during a time of heightened religious tension in America,” says Hendricks Chapel Dean Tiffany Steinwert. “Given her central role in the controversy regarding Cordoba House at Park51, Ms. Khan brings a depth of analysis and experience to contemporary debates, making them come alive for students. This is not simply an opportunity to talk about inter-religious dialogue, this is an opportunity to be part of it.”

Khan is executive director of ASMA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing an American Muslim identity and to building bridges between the Muslim community and general public through dialogues in faith, identity, culture and arts. She mentors young Muslims on challenges of assimilation, gender, religion and modernity, and intergenerational differences. In the aftermath of 9/11, Khan created interfaith programs to emphasize commonalities among the Abrahamic faith traditions, such as a groundbreaking theater work titled “Same Difference” and the interfaith “Cordoba Bread Fest”

To prioritize the improvement of Muslim-West relations and the advancement of Muslim women globally, Khan has launched two cutting-edge intrafaith programs to start movements of change agents among the two disempowered majorities of the Muslim world—youth and women. The MLT: Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow and WISE: Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality programs were launched at an international scale in Doha (MLT) and in Malaysia (WISE). Both programs seek to convene, empower and build networks in their target groups, and to facilitate the emergence of a leadership that speaks with a credible, humane and equitable voice in the global Muslim community.

Khan frequently lectures and debates in the United States and internationally. She has previously debated Christopher Hitchens on National Public Radio. After the Danish cartoon crisis, she moderated a discussion in Denmark between young Muslims and Flemming Rose, the original publisher of the controversial cartoons. In May 2007, Khan became the first Muslim woman to speak at Thanksgiving Square in Dallas on the National Day of Prayer.

She frequently comments on important issues in the media, and has appeared on ABC, PBS, BBC World, CNN, Fox News, National Geographic, Al Jazeerah and the Hallmark Channel. She has also been quoted in several print publications, such as Time, Newsweek, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Saudi Gazette, The National and Khaleej Times. In July 2007, Khan appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine along with 40 members of ASMA. In the same issue of the magazine, she co-wrote an article on the symmetry between core Islamic values and the constitution of the United States.

Khan is the recipient of several awards, including the Interfaith Center’s Award for Promoting Peace and Interfaith Understanding, the Auburn Seminary’s Lives of Commitment Award, Hunt Alternatives Prime Movers Award, Women’s E-News 21st leaders for 21st century and the Jericho High School Alumni Hall of Fame Award.

Born in Kashmir, India, Khan spent the first 25 years of her career as an interior architect at various Fortune 500 companies. In 2005, she decided to fully dedicate herself to elevating the discourse on Islam, improving the lives of Muslims and non- Muslims globally through ASMA and its sister organization Cordoba Initiative.

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